The key issue that must be addressed is that a product which meets the Department of Health’s own clinical guidelines on the use of medical cannabis in epilepsy must be added to the Medical Cannabis Access Programme(MCAP) in order to make it accessible to people with epilepsy and their clinicians.
As part of this continuing issue, we were also strongly advocating that Epidyolex - the only licensed CBD based medication for the treatment of two rare epilepsies (Dravet Syndrome & Lennox Gastaut Syndrome) be made available under the medical card & long-term illness schemes. We are pleased that our efforts on this matter have been successful, and this medication has been available in Ireland since the beginning of 2022.
The Medical Cannabis Access Programme provides a safer and more regulated access route for patients to access products which may potentially have a positive impact in the treatment of their condition. It will also remove significant expense from families who are currently accessing other products which do not have good manufacturing procedures. Treatment resistant epilepsy is one of the indications for the MCAP.
The issue surrounding the MCAP from an epilepsy perspective is that none of the currently approved products meet the criteria outlined in the clinical guidelines for use in epilepsy. Therefore, clinicians are extremely hesitant in prescribing any of the currently listed products to their patients due to them not meeting the criteria in epilepsy due to concerns around potential long-term side-effects. This means the MCAP is not being fully utilised for people with epilepsy.
The use of cannabis-based products in the treatment of epilepsy is a complex issue. To learn more about this, visit the 'Medicinal Cannabis & Epilepsy' section of our website to learn more.
The below are some of the latest updates on this matter and associated articles in the news section of our website where you can read more.
- December 2021 - HSE approve Reimbursement of CBD Medication Epidyolex
- August 2021 - Irish Epilepsy League & Epilepsy Ireland seek response from Minister for Health on MCAP
- August 2021 - Issues surrounding Medical Cannabis Programme highlighted in media
- August 201 - Irish Times; Medical cannabis and treating epilepsy
- August 2021 - Newstalk; Supply Issues Hampering The Government’s Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme
- August 2021 - Newstalk; Doctors raise concerns over inappropriate medicinal cannabis access programme
- August 2021 - Irish Times; Some doctors say they will shun State’s medicinal cannabis programme
- April 2021 - Study on Epidyolex use in treatment resistant epilepsy reports positive findings.
- April 2021 - Epilepsy Ireland & Irish Epilepsy League write jointly to the Minister for Health regarding Medical Cannabis Access Programme
- March 2021 - Epilepsy Ireland Launch new mini-site on issue of Medicinal Cannabis & Epilepsy
- March 2021 - Epidyolex Update
- January 2021 - Minister for Health announces funding for Medical Cannabis Access Programme.
- October 2020 - Epidyolex Update - Epilepsy Ireland make submission to NCPE supporting reimbursement of the drug
- December 2019 - New study finds that Epidyolex has positive impact on seizure frequency in TSC
- November 2019 - Epidyolex approved by NICE for reimbursement in UK
- September 2019 - Epidyolex receives marketing approval by European Commission
- August 2019 - Epidyolex turned down for NHS reimbursement
- August 2019 - CBD-based drug moves closer to authorisation in Europe